Losing one's mind over meaning : analysing the behaviour of possessive idioms
Ho, Jia Qian
Date of Issue2015
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Idioms are commonly found in everyday language and reflect the conventionalisations in speech communities. Regarding English idioms, past research have examined the syntactic and semantic analysis of idioms (Villavicencio & Copestake, 2002), along with their decomposability (Nunberg, 1978; Gibbs, 1989a,b) and comprehension (Titone & Connine, 1994; Cacciari & Tabossi, 2014). However, there has been little research on English possessive idioms despite their uniqueness and interesting properties. This thesis thus seeks to analyze the syntax and semantics of possessive idioms and describe their behaviour in terms of their decomposability and plausibility. A total of 514 idioms were categorized into co-indexed and separate possessive idioms and then grouped syntactically in order to be incorporated into new templates in the English Resource Grammar (Flickinger, 2011). Subsequently, the meaning of either each idiom component or paraphrase component was linked to WordNet (Fellbaum, 1998a) by choosing the most appropriate sense. The resulting comprehensive syntactic and semantic idiom descriptions allowed for analyses of their syntax, semantics, decomposability and plausibility. Results demonstrated the interplay between syntax and semantics and revealed novel aspects of possessive idioms, such as alternation and transformation in idioms. Furthermore, results confirmed that a degree of decomposability exists and suggested that possessive idioms could be categorized into four groups according to their projectability. The comprehensive idiom database will be released under an open license where it can be used as a dictionary and to further improve natural language processing applications.
DRNTU::Library and information science
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University